Eric La Fountaine wrote today’s entry:
Salvia is the largest genus of the Lamiaceae or mint family with over 900 species. The name, given by Pliny the Elder, means to heal or save and refers to the medicinal qualities attributed to some species. Most have aromatic compounds and give off strong herbal fragances from the leaves. Salvia hierosolymitana or Jerusalem sage (hierosolymitana = sacred Jerusalem) lacks this quality. It is native to the eastern Mediterranean.
The plant forms a 60 cm (2 ft.) wide mound of basal leaves with tall branched inflorescences 30 cm (1 ft.) long held above. The wine-red flowers are borne in whorls loosely spaced along the stem. The leaves, stems and floral bracts are covered with small hairs. The stems and bracts are often strongly tinged red. A perennial species, Salvia hierosolymitana blooms for several weeks in early spring and is suitable for cultivation in warm climates.
Jerusalem sage is not used medicinally or as an herb like some other members of the genus—notably Salvia officinalis, culinary sage. It is used for cooking by Palestinian Arabs, as a wrapper similar to the way grape leaves are stuffed in the Mediteranean.